At this time, the “drowned” man opened his eyes, looking muddled. With dull eyes, he was not aware of what had happened. Besides, having just woken up, he was weakened.
Seeing this, his son beside him howled and cried, “Father, you have finally woken up! You had scared Sen’er to death.”
The man opened his mouth and wanted to say something, but he could not make a sound. Zhuang Zhong said, “You can all carry him back now. It is currently up to the physician on how to treat him further.”
The physician quickly saluted by cupping one hand in the other. “I will have to ask this young master to perform the follow-up, as I am inferior and lacking in knowledge. I do not want to disregard a human life again.”
The physician was young and had just finished his apprenticeship. Just now, he had misdiagnosed that the man was not breathing and told their family to prepare for his burial, so how could he have dared to make a prescription. Just now, he was simply just checking whether the man was breathing after being buried in the mud mound.
Zhuang Zhong waved his hand and said, “I would not be as capable as you in the follow-up. There is also no need to blame yourself too much, as this was a false death. From his outer appearance, he almost seems like a dead man where his breathing, heart rate, and pulse were very weak and cannot be identified by ordinary methods. It was only due to quick intervention that he was able to survive. Since you are young and inexperienced, it is inevitable that you would make mistakes. However, you need to be more careful in the future, as life is precious, and you should not be too rash.”
The physician listened to his teachings modestly and could not help but ask, “Can this young master teach me how to identify whether it is a true or false death?”
After saying this, the physician felt that it was improper, and his ears turned red. No matter what profession people had in this world, they would always keep their own unique skills a secret. After all, if one told others everything, he would starve to death, and this also includes medical skills. However, the physician was really curious, and since human life had greater value than everything, he had wanted to try asking. Thus, despite feeling that it was not suitable, he did not take back his words.
As a forensic examiner who had witnessed many different kinds of death, Zhuang Zhong deeply cherished human lives. Whether it was from the perspective of human nature or criminal investigation, a living person was way better than a dead one. So even if the physician did not ask, Zhuang Zhong would still have told him. Zhuang Zhong then proceeded to reply, “Examine the madam and send someone to fill the prescription first. I will talk to you about suspended animation1 The author used “假死” (literally false death) throughout the raw text and I had mostly retained the literal form in the translations. For a greater understanding of this, the author is most likely referring to “suspended animation” in English, which commonly refers to the slowing or stopping of life processes without terminating life. Just take note that I would be using them interchangeably. after.”
Overjoyed, the physician hastened to check the fainted woman’s pulse before writing the prescription and ordering a person to retrieve it. He then quickly returned to Zhuang Zhong’s side, in fear that Zhuang Zhong would change his mind. The onlookers also did not disperse as they raised their ears, wanting to know how to identify a body in suspended animation.
Zhuang Zhong had intended to educate more people on what was a false death, as after all if this could save more people, it was a meritorious and virtuous deed. He said loudly, “Suspended animation can be commonly seen in all kinds of injuries, such as hanging, strangulation, drowning, etc. Besides, it is also possible with poison, excessive low temperature, and other illnesses too. In short, they are ni, yi, dong, ye, mo, jing, etc.2In Chinese, there is a tendency to shorten words/phrases into a single word that encompasses its meaning. Here, the use of “溺、溢、冻、暍、魔、惊” (pinyin ni, yi, dong, ye, mo, jing) represents what was mentioned earlier like drowning, hanging, freezing , etc. We may come across it sometimes in life, so if you can identify it and provide timely help, there is still a slim chance of survival. In addition, to distinguish whether the patient is really dead or not, the method is very simple. One would just have to apply pressure on the pupil until it deforms. If it is able to recover its shape after removing the pressure, the patient is not yet dead.”
After that, everyone was enlightened. No wonder Zhuang Zhong kept on pressing onto the man’s face – he was just employing this method. Some of them even tried it out with the people around them and found that it was true. As they had just assumed that dead bodies should be stiff and unresponsive, they were unaware of methods that could be used to identify dead people.
As the physician took in such knowledge, Zhuang Zhong moved on to say, “This is just one of the methods. You can also tie the patient’s finger with a rope. If the fingertip swells and becomes purple, it means that the patient still has blood circulation and is not dead.”
“Blood circulation? Are you referring to the Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor3“黄帝内经” (huangdi neijing) is known as Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor/Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. It is an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia. More information could be found in the Translator’s Notes. where blood was described to be continuously circulating in the body without rest?”
Zhuang Zhong nodded. “Yes, that was what I meant.”
The strong man that had carried the “drowned” man on his back suddenly asked, “Does this mean that there are differences between injuries one obtained before and after death?”
Without thinking, Zhuang Zhong replied, “Of course.”
“Seeing that this young master is so certain, do you know how to distinguish them too?”
After hearing that question, Zhuang Zhong immediately became cautious. It was at this moment that he looked at the strong man carefully and found that his imposing appearance was not like those of the ordinary people. Looking very valiant, Zhuang Zhong feared that the man’s origins might not be as simple as he thought.
Zhuang Zhong placed his hands together and said a word of “Amitabha”. “The sea of Dharma is boundless, and everything in the world is known4 Here the author used “法海无边，世间之事皆是知晓” which compared Buddhism teachings as something that is as vast as the sea and there is also nothing in the world that is unknown..”
When he lifted his head up again, the strong man was already gone.
“This lowly one deserves death to let the young master wait for such a long time.” With his uncle still weak from drowning and his aunt fainting in agitation, only a five-year-old child was left in the family. Thus, during this scene of chaos, only DongZi could step up to fix everything.
“There is no harm, as saving people’s lives is the most important.”
DongZi bowed deeply to Zhuang Zhong. “Many thanks to the young master for lending a hand, or my uncle would have lost his life, and my family would have also been implicated!”
DongZi’s father was very fond of drinking, and since he and his uncle were kindred spirits, they often got together to drink. DongZi’s aunt and mother had also raised this issue up many times to them, but they did not give it much regard. Unlike DongZi’s father who drank to death every day, his uncle was not as bad. DongZi’s father was a relatively idle man, while his uncle had to get up early and open his noodle shop the next day, so he had not wanted to drink so much last night. However, DongZi’s father recklessly pulled his uncle to drink a lot, not expecting for such an accident to occur. If something bad happened to his uncle, their family would have felt guilty for a lifetime, although they would not be punished by the law.
“It was also because your uncle’s life was not supposed to end yet. However, he should also refrain from drinking so much in the future.” Zhuang Zhong also frequently came across quite a number of wrongful death cases where people died due to excessive drinking.
“Yes, yes, I will go back and inform my father today so that he is aware that drinking too much will kill him. My uncle also would not have drunk so much if my father had not insistently pulled him along last night.”
After such a fuss, they ended up being unable to eat noodles with soybean paste as intended. However, there were all kinds of food stalls nearby, as this street was said to be the most famous food street in the capital. High-ranking officials and nobles would also send their servants to buy food here. Some would even go incognito to eat and drink while strolling about the Wangjiang River. With most officials coming here at least once, some shops even displayed the chairs and tables they had sat on. The food ordered by the officials at that time also became the shop’s specialty dishes.
Along the way, Zhuang Zhong and DongZi ate to their heart’s content, all of which were paid for by DongZi. Seeing that Zhuang Zhong was unwilling to let him pay, DongZi said, “My father should pay for this money. If it was not for you, he would be troubled for the rest of his life. We should spend more so that he would remember this matter for a longer time!”
Besides, it was not as if they could spend that much, so Zhuang Zhong did not decline anymore. With such an excuse, DongZi ate happily. Although his family was relatively well-off, it was big, and his parents used money pretty sparingly. Except for some big events, he seldom had the opportunity to eat without inhibition. Eventually, despite their still growing tummies and only eating a bit of everything, they ended up so full that they were almost unable to walk.
“Young Master, how was it? The food here is not bad right?” DongZi asked while patting his obviously bulging stomach.
Zhuang Zhong felt that he had eaten all the way up to his throat. Ever since he started working in his past world, he had no free time to stroll down the street. Besides being busy every day, his cell phone was always on 24 hours, and there was truly no such thing as holidays at all. Additionally, there were also not many bachelors like him in the bureau – with no parents, partner, and children, so people would usually look for him first whenever something happened.
“Well, let us stop here for today and remember this place so that we could continue eating down the street the next time. We should also come up with a food strategy to tackle the delicacies in the capital.”
DongZi had become used to Zhuang Zhong’s occasional use of strange words, so he was able to roughly guess what he meant, and said with a smile, “This type of job is what I am best at!”
After eating and drinking their fill, they went to buy gifts. There were many differences between the capital and the remote mountain area Zhuang Zhong had lived in, so for his first visit, he made purchases according to what DongZi had suggested. This was because he did not know what the other party liked, and DongZi was also the one who was very clear about the proper etiquette here. As men generally shop pretty fast, they managed to complete their purchases in a short time. Out of the 100 string-holed copper coins given, they had used up 50 on buying gifts. In DaYou, that amount was sufficient living expenses for ordinary people for four or five years, so these gifts could be considered as something not to be taken lightly.
In the past two years, Zhuang Zhong and YuanJue’s fraudulent buying and selling struggle had merely given them 50 string-holed copper coins. They had planned to resume a secular life after the abbot passed away by going down the mountain to do some business. However, all the money ended up submerged in the flood. Being all copper coins, the money had been too heavy to carry, so they were all hidden in the temple. As Zhuang Zhong currently does not have a way to make a living, he felt that he should keep some for himself and slowly show his filial piety with additional acts in the future. Otherwise, without any personal money, he would not be able to do anything.
“Young Master, what is the matter?”
As Zhuang Zhong kept looking back, DongZi had asked in uncertainty.
Zhuang Zhong frowned. He had felt like someone was staring at him, but when he looked back, he saw nothing.
“Nothing. Let us head to the general’s household now.”
Thinking that he was just being too over-sensitive, he got on the carriage and left.
River View Pavilion was the best restaurant in the capital. With three stories, one could see a full and panoramic view of the capital at the top.
“Tsk, tsk, this little monk is very sharp. Leader, we are really fated with this little monk, as we always bump into him whenever we encounter something interesting. This was also my first time hearing that people who had drowned in the water for a whole night can still be saved. He seems to possess some skills and is not as foolish as he looks. It seems that Marquis WenYuan’s household will soon become lively, as he will be holding a feast tomorrow to recognize his son. With such a capable and legitimate eldest son suddenly appearing and snatching the things that belong to her sons, I am afraid that Concubine Yin will grit her silver teeth so hard that it will shatter to pieces.” With one leg propped up on the chair, HouShu said while tossing grapes into his mouth.
Feng Huan retracted his gaze from the window. “You seem to speak more and more nonsensical stuff.”
HouShu shrugged his shoulders, curled his lips, and said, “Is that not because you like listening to it?”
Without waiting for Feng Huan to respond, he then proceeded to ask, “Leader, what was your intention to act like a fool and ask whether the little monk knew the differences between injuries received before and after death? Did you return this time to settle cases? Interesting. My father said that the cases in the Ministry of Justice are piled up like a mountain, and all of DaYou’s post-mortem examiners are trash. Coincidentally, he needs a wise and great man to arrive… Oh, I’ve already told you not to hit me on the head! My head is the only useful part of my whole body, so what would I do if I become dumb from being hit?”
“Judging cases is no child play,” Feng Huan said, with a severe countenance. He then swept a glance at HouShu’s crotch area. “Is that thing also not useful? If you want me, your king, to grant you a husband, you can just tell me up front. There is no need to disguise it in such a secretive manner.”
In DaYou, male homosexuality flourished, and marrying a male wife was not something rare. Even among the high-ranking officials and nobles, there were some who have done so. It was just that there were not many male wives, as most of the people took in male concubines instead.
HouShu choked, turned his eyes, and jumped up from the chair before leaning close to Feng Huan’s side. He curled his fingers into orchid fingers, fluttered his eyes, and pinched his throat, saying, “Husband, from now onwards, I would belong to you…”
With just a lift of his hand, HouShu was pushed to the ground. Feng Huan hummed coldly, “I am neither blind nor poor. I still have power and entitlement.”
“Wu… I do not want to live anymore. It was not as if it was my intention to grow up looking like this.” Seeing that Feng Huan’s leg was about to kick him again, HouShu instantly jumped up from the ground with a swish, just as agile as a monkey.
O.O ML’s appearance at the end was a nice surprise and I have to say that his relationship with HouShu is pretty funny. I guess the plot is moving forward as we are moving away from the past!
-黄帝内经, Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor is composed of two texts, each of eighty-one chapters or treatises in a question-and-answer format between the mythical Yellow Emperor and six of his equally legendary ministers. The first text, the suwen (素問), also known as Basic Questions, covers the theoretical foundation of Chinese Medicine and its diagnostic methods. The second and generally less referred-to text, the lingshu (靈樞; Spiritual Pivot), discusses acupuncture therapy in great detail. There are various translations of it but I chose to refer to Paul U. Unschuld’s Huang Di nei jing su wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text because of its in-depth annotation. I also did a brief skim and I have to say it involved a lot of reference to natural forces like qi circulation, Yin and Yang, etc. Also, if I am not wrong, the part about the never-ending blood circulation was briefly mentioned in Chapter 6: Discourse on the Division and Unity of yin and yang in the translated book.
- 1The author used “假死” (literally false death) throughout the raw text and I had mostly retained the literal form in the translations. For a greater understanding of this, the author is most likely referring to “suspended animation” in English, which commonly refers to the slowing or stopping of life processes without terminating life. Just take note that I would be using them interchangeably.
- 2In Chinese, there is a tendency to shorten words/phrases into a single word that encompasses its meaning. Here, the use of “溺、溢、冻、暍、魔、惊” (pinyin ni, yi, dong, ye, mo, jing) represents what was mentioned earlier like drowning, hanging, freezing , etc.
- 3“黄帝内经” (huangdi neijing) is known as Esoteric Scripture of the Yellow Emperor/Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor. It is an ancient Chinese medical text that has been treated as the fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia. More information could be found in the Translator’s Notes.
- 4Here the author used “法海无边，世间之事皆是知晓” which compared Buddhism teachings as something that is as vast as the sea and there is also nothing in the world that is unknown.